Wednesday, June 29, 2016


The opening of this book is a heart-stopper.  Sten Stenson and his wife Carolee are on a Costa Rican shore excursion that goes from bad to worse.  A couple of local criminals hold the cruise group at gunpoint, demanding their wallets and valuables, but Sten uses his skills as an ex-Marine to bring the ringleader down.  Back in the U.S.A., we find that Sten’s 25-year-old son Adam is a psychopathic survivalist who models his life after that of John Colter, a scout for the Lewis and Clark expedition.  Our third character is Sara, a lonely 40-something anti-government rebel who becomes romantically involved with Adam.  These two are the epitome of the lunatic fringe.  Sara doesn’t share Adam’s penchant for violence but neither does she try very hard to dissuade him.  In fact, she’s more concerned about the consequences of her possible guilt by association than she is about the horrendous things Adam has done.  Sten is no hero, either, as he allows a buddy to get him worked up about Mexicans buying food supplies in the grocery store.  In other words, all three of these people are a little hard to take and impossible to like, much less admire.  In fact, my only real complaint about this book is the lack of good guys.  The story takes place in northern California, and I know for a fact that not everyone up there is wacko.  As always, Boyle’s writing is superb, and he never shies away from controversial subject matter, such as a mentally ill person being armed to the teeth.  If the action and attitudes in this novel don’t raise your hackles and your blood pressure, I don’t know what will.

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